profits. The garment industry is widely seen as a stepping stone to further industrialisation by developing countries as it is labor intensive with low barriers to entry. Though incorporation into garment GSCs promised industrial development, employment, and decent wages, the industry, steered by the decisions of fashion brands, has failed to deliver on these developmental outcomes for the global South. The garment workforce, predominantly women from marginalized groups, including migrants, religious minorities, and caste-oppressed communities, are forced to accept non-standard forms of employment, with precarious job contracts, as well as low and insecure wages. Brands also do not pay taxes to Asian governments, despite taking advantage of the resources in production regions. The Covid-19 pandemic and resultant global recession further aggravated pre-existing inequalities and exploitative relationships within garment GSCs. Asian garment workers and garment production countries were forced to subsidize the profits of large fashion brands headquartered in the global North. During the pandemic-induced recession, fashion brands engaged in harmful and unilateral actions to minimize any reduction in profits and safeguard their businesses, such as cancellations of orders, refusal to pay for finished products, and demanding deep discounts. These actions led to severe losses for the Asian garment industry, with several garment factories closing down temporarily or permanently. This in turn resulted in widespread loss of employment and massive wage theft for Asian garment workers – many of them women who were left without access to work or wages, and consequently, food, shelter, healthcare or education for their children.2 The irresponsible business practices by brands also perpetuated informalisation – that further impeded access to healthcare and other social services, increased gender disparities, and exposed workers to occupational and health risks including sexual harassment.3 Garment workers’ households were pushed far below the poverty line and took on large debts in order to survive – leading to long term and intergenerational transfer of poverty and indebtedness.4 Arbitrary decisions by fashion brands worsened the welfare of garment workers and revealed once again the systemic inequalities that undergird garment GSCs. 2 4 3

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